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    Makeover for Clearwater Mall

    Old soon will be new again

    Developers of the rebuilt shopping center say it's already 90 percent full and will be completely open by fall.

    By JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 10, 2003

    CLEARWATER --Out of clouds of dust and piles of rubble, a rebuilt Clearwater Mall has begun to emerge.

    Last month, wrecking crews levelled the last of the 30-year-old shopping center.

    Now the makeover is under way.

    Construction has begun on the $100-million open-air mall, set to open in October. Not all of the deals are final, but a spokeswoman for the development partners -- Sembler Co. of St. Petersburg and New Plan Excel Realty Trust of New York -- said the mall is 90 percent full.

    "Everything's pretty much on schedule," said Lisa Brock.

    The mall will open in phases, with Costco Wholesale Membership warehouse set to open its doors in late April, followed by a Lowe's home improvement store in September. SuperTarget is scheduled for an October opening.

    Complex negotiations delayed demolition last fall, but Brock said talks are on track to open the entire mall by early fall.

    Plans call for a shopping center that will sprawl over 72 acres with 3,800 parking spaces.

    On board, so far, are: Linens 'n Things, Petsmart and Ross Dress for Less. The Wachovia branch bank will move to a new location facing Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. Michaels and Tires Plus also have signed on. Developers have said they are negotiating with Borders to bring a 22,000-square-foot book and music cafe to the mall. The Michigan-based retailer has only one other location in Pinellas County, at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg.

    Brock said Pier One and Famous Footwear are still in talks with developers. Two restaurants, McDonald's and the sports bar Smokey Bones, are negotiating to fill outparcels along Gulf to Bay, according to architectural drawings on file with the city.

    Tires Plus is the only tenant from the original mall to ride out construction in the same location. As its store manager, Howard Metts has enjoyed an up-close view of the mall's progress.

    "It's going good. They're working quite well with us," he said Friday. "It'll be nice when we have a new mall here."

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